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Afp

Gatland recalls big guns as Wales bid to end losing run

By AFP
media Alun Wyn Jones returns to lead Wales against the All Blacks AFP

Coach Warren Gatland has recalled his big guns for the one-off Test match against world champions New Zealand on Saturday in a bid to break a losing streak that dates back to 1953.

Out goes most of the team that scraped to a miserable 13-6 victory over Georgia last weekend, when the All Blacks were pushed hard before running out 22-17 victors over Scotland.

Lock Alun Wyn Jones returns to lead the Welsh side, the Ospreys player part of an unchanged pack from November's opening 29-21 defeat by Australia.

Jones will pack down with Jake Ball in the boilerhouse, with Aaron Shingler, Josh Navidi and Taulupe Faletau named in the back row -- Navidi keeping the returning Justin Tipuric on the bench.

The front row comprises Rob Evans, Ken Owens and Tomas Francis. Rhys Webb slots in to partner Dan Biggar at half-back with two Williams, Owen and Scott, forming the midfield as Jonathan Davies is out injured.

The back-three features Leigh Halfpenny at full-back with Hallam Amos coming in for the injured Liam Williams and Steff Evans on the other wing.

"It's great to name an unchanged pack from the Australia match," said Gatland.

"We were pleased with a lot of aspects of our second-half performance in that match so we are looking to build on that on Saturday."

Gatland added: "We have a couple of injuries in the backline, but we also have players on form starting. Steff Evans and Hallam Amos are both on form and we are excited to see what they can do.

"We have spoken heavily about opportunity this autumn and there is no greater opportunity than lining up against the world champions."

Kristian Dacey, Wyn Jones and Leon Brown provide front row cover on the bench. Cory Hill and Tipuric, who returns from injury for his first involvement in the autumn campaign, complete the forward contingent. Gareth Davies, Rhys Priestland and veteran centre Jamie Roberts provide the back-line cover.

Wales's long and painful wait since their last victory against New Zealand stands at 64 years and 29 Tests -- they have lost every game and conceded almost 1,000 points since a famous 13-8 victory over New Zealand six days before Christmas in 1953.

Several of the Wales team, however, were part of the British and Irish Lions squad that secured a 1-1 series draw against the All Blacks in the summer.

Wales team for the one-off rugby union international with New Zealand at the Principality Stadium on Saturday (1715 GMT kick-off):

Wales (15-1)

Leigh Halfpenny; Hallam Amos, Scot Williams, Owen Williams, Steff Evans; Dan Biggar, Rhys Webb; Taulupe Faletau, Josh Navidi, Aaron Shingler; Alun Wyn Jones (capt), Jake Ball; Tomas Francis, Ken Owens, Rob Evans

Replacements: Kristian Dacey, Wyn Jones, Leon Brown, Cory Hill, Justin Tipuric, Gareth Davies, Rhys Priestland, Jamie Roberts

Coach: Warren Gatland (NZL)

 
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